As sleet and freezing rain came down in North Texas, insurance agents readied for a range of winter weather questions.
“We're preparing for a lot of phone calls,” said Mark Tucker, an insurance agent with Allstate. “Your power can go out, you could have tree limbs fall, there's a lot of different things that can happen.”
Ice damage to homes
If an ice dam keeps winter precipitation from draining off your roof and you experience leaks inside your attic or home, Ben Gonzalez with the Texas Department of Insurance said your insurance company will want you to do what you can to, safely, prevent water damage.
“That means you've got to cover those holes as soon as you can. Use tarps, use plywood and save your receipts,” said Gonzalez.
Ice sticking to tree branches is another risk in this winter storm.
“If a branch gets covered with ice that may have looked perfectly healthy during the spring, but right now it's dry. It can fall down and hit your roof or hit your vehicle,” said Gonzalez.
What if a neighbor’s ice-covered tree does damage?
Gonzalez said that’s a common question to the TDI’s helpline, “My neighbor's tree fell, hit my roof or hit my car. You still make the claim on your own insurance because your neighbor is not responsible for an act of nature.”
You can reach someone at the TDI’s consumer helpline here.
If you have to file a claim, take photos and videos to send to the insurance company. Send them to yourself too to create a record.
Car wrecks in winter weather
Car wrecks in these conditions bring a special set of challenges.
“It doesn't matter how skilled you are as a driver, you can't drive on a plane in ice,” said Gonzalez.
If you’re in a wreck with injuries or the driver takes off, call 911.
Otherwise, try to get videos and photos if it’s safe. Other cars could slide into you and it may be more important to get off the road.
The information you need is the drivers’ license, insurance and license plate numbers if there’s another vehicle involved in the wreck.
“There's definitely a possibility that there's going to be more single-car accidents where you're not running into somebody else. You just lose control of the car and skid into a side railing or somebody else's property,” said Gonzalez.
If you’re carrying the minimum required liability coverage, your insurance won’t pay to fix your car. For that, you’ll need collision or comprehensive coverage.
While your insurance may give you a list of body shops to make repairs, you can take your car anywhere.
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